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App Store rule change could kill game promotion services

App Store rule change could kill game promotion services

October 1, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

New changes to Apple's App Store Review Guidelines could eliminate the third-party app promotion services and affiliate programs that many developers depend on to acquire users and advertise their games.

Implemented last month, the new clause found by Pocket Gamer states that "Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected."

That description applies to a number of popular app promotion services like FreeAppADay, as well as the practice of cross-promotion and advertising other applications within a game. Companies that facilitate the latter practice, such as Tapjoy, and possibly even mobile social game networks like Gree could take a major hit if the rule is enforced.

A great number of developers rely on these services, paying to have their titles highlighted in them. This not only helps them acquire users, but also drives up the download count of their games, propelling releases to the top of the App Store charts, where increased visibility further multiplies game downloads.

Free apps that curate games or highlight deals without charging a fee to developers, helping alleviate some of the discovery problems that platform has suffered due to a flood of releases, could also be affected.

There haven't been any reports yet of Apple enforcing this clause, but the company has made it clear in the past that it disapproves of developers and services that try to manipulate its charts and user reviews.

Addressing complaints about services that explicitly promise a boost for releases on the App Store's charts for a fee, Apple advised developers to "avoid using services that advertise or guarantee top placement in App Store charts" back in February.

At the time, the company said in a statement posted on its developer site, "Even if you are not personally engaged in manipulating App Store chart rankings or user reviews, employing services that do so on your behalf may result in the loss of your Apple Developer Program membership."

[Update: A new addition to iOS's Developer Library suggests that Apple might not be completely against developers promoting other apps in their titles, and that the company is actually encouraging it in some cases.

The new developer feature, which was pointed out by TechCrunch, is outlined in Apple's SKStoreProductView Controller Class Reference page: "A SKStoreProductViewController object presents a store that allows the user to purchase other media from the App Store. For example, your app might display the store to allow the user to purchase another app."]

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